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Doncaster Knights Academy - The story behind the dream

Posted: 22nd May 2019

A statement from Becky Fores, Programme Leader of Sport, and Exercise Science at Doncaster College regarding the Academy being promoted to the BUCS Northern 1A following an independent assessment.

During the 2017/18 season it was identified by the coaching team and myself that the level of games which the academy were facing within their fixtures in the Northern 5B league was not of the standard which our players were at. We were not only undefeated, but there was clear risk presented to our opposing players. At the end of the season an informal appeal was made, however BUCS were not ready to acknowledge this and wanted to see more from us.

The 2018/19 season in the Northern 4B league has been a rollercoaster of a ride for the academy, they again were undefeated in their fixtures, again playing teams who were not at the required level for our lads. Our academy train daily, have S&C sessions each week and have coaches that are Championship players, the teams we were up against were often 4th/5th teams of other universities and playing rugby for social purposes. We had roughly nine games cancelled on us (last minute) and it was becoming a real problem for the moral of the boys, but also playing havoc on their training regime. Change needed to happen.

So six months ago, with the support of Head Coach Tyson Lewis and the Club, I began the appeals process for the promotion of our Doncaster College Academy Rugby Team (Doncaster Knights Academy) from 4B to 1A.

The process was in no means simple, it’s been six long hard months of evidence gathering in relation to talent pathway, players rugby history, facility provision, physio provision, coach sustainability to justifying the longevity of the whole rugby programme here at Doncaster College and University Centre. BUCS set out vigorous criteria for us to meet and in February we confirmed that we met each and every condition set.

Once the paperwork was in, there was one criteria still to be met (the seeding fixtures) and this was where I handed over the appeal fully to Tyson who arranged for the team to meet teams of a similar standard to that of the academy. We played the two fixtures (Hull University and the Russian Team Krasny Yar) both of which were observed by RFU members and reported back to BUCS. Although the team lost against Krasny Yar, it was confirmed that the skill presented by our players during both the Hull game and the Krasny Yar game warranted promotion beyond where we currently sat.

We are thoroughly excited by the prospect of continuing to enhance the rugby provision we offer here at Doncaster College in partnership with Doncaster Knights.

I would like to thank BUCS (in particular Nick Burley) for their support, along with Mark Saltmarsh, Jonathan Rickerby and Mike Hart from the RFU who have also been of immense support for both Doncaster College and our partner club Doncaster Knights.

Our coaching team are outstanding and without them, this unique experience could not be made into reality. But it’s our boys who deserve my greatest thanks as without them, none of this would be possible.

I wish everyone all the success moving into the 2019/20 campaign. I can’t wait for the season to start.

Press release supplied by Doncaster Knights